Adecco, the world's largest temp agency, endured a rough beginning to the year.
Mishandled communications regarding auditing irregularities in January led to the resignation of its CFO and shook investors badly enough to send stock prices plunging on the day the news broke.
Despite having nearly 30,000 workers around the globe, Adecco also suffered from comparatively poor name recognition in the US. Seeking to raise its profile, improve employee morale, and highlight its core competencies, Adecco teamed with Cubitt Jacobs & Prosek Communications (CJP) for a PR boost.
From the outset, the agency wanted to help Adecco "get back to what their core competency was - finding work for people," according to CJP account supervisor Wilson Cleveland.
With that in mind, CJP staff designed a strategy to link the placement firm with the most prominent pop-culture symbol of employment available: The Apprentice, Donald Trump's wildly popular reality show for enthusiastic, fresh-faced job seekers. By doing so, Adecco could align itself with a hot national trend and shift news coverage from the negatives.
CJP knew The Apprentice would be a strong enough brand to hang its hat on for a yearlong effort featuring the new company slogan, "You're Hired!" Adecco even stumbled onto an added bonus when it discovered the phrase was not copyrighted.
CJP chose April 15 - tax day, as well as the date of The Apprentice season finale - as National "You're Hired!" day, knowing they could take advantage of the free publicity that comes every year on that date, such as television crews positioned outside post offices to gather footage of late tax filers.
"We mobilized teams of Adecco employees in 20 markets to go on the street" and solicit r?sum?s, Cleveland says. Company recruiters posted themselves outside Trump Towers in Manhattan, enjoying excess hype from the show and even catching the eye of Donald Trump himself. "He thought it was very funny," Cleveland says.
CJP also sent senior Adecco managers on a nationwide radio tour to talk up the company's job-placement expertise and followed up two weeks later with a radio news release.
"Our branches had a very positive time," says Victoria Mitchell, Adecco's PR director. While a day of handing out balloons and T-shirts allowed employees to relax outdoors for a while, they were also working hard to hammer home the "You're Hired" message - Adecco collected an extra 500 r?sum?s on April 15 through the nationwide outreach efforts.
Cleveland says the tax-day events generated $550,000 worth of equivalent coverage in media outlets like Reuters and local news stations in several markets throughout the country. Mitchell admits that from her perspective the media play was "not all that successful," but emphasizes that it was only a small part of the campaign, which was essentially the rollout of a new Adecco slogan.
"We're attaching the tag 'You're Hired' to everything we do now," says Cleveland.
CJP, Adecco's agency of record, has big plans for the ongoing campaign. First, the firm coordinated a satellite media tour to coincide with the show's premiere on NBC. As The Apprentice continues its second season, the client will maintain efforts to promote the slogan, while actively seeking to trademark it.
Mitchell says the company plans to reissue its marketing and recruiting brochure to reflect the new tagline. What's more, they didn't pay a dime in licensing fees for their piggyback ride on Trump's notoriety.
PR team: Adecco (Melville, NY) and Cubitt Jacobs & Prosek Communications (New York)
Campaign: Adecco's National "You're Hired!" Day
Time frame: March 2004 to present